Regardless of who wins the game, Saturdayâ€™s finale of this yearâ€™s eighth annual Sammy Baugh Classic at Mustang Bowl will mark a fairly significant milestone.
When Class 4A Everman and El Paso Del Valle meet that day at 6 p.m., it will mark the first time that two teams above the 3A level have played in the Classic, and of course, the first time theyâ€™ve played each other.
In fact, thereâ€™s been only one other team in Classic history above Class 3A that has participated.
In 2006, when Sweetwater â€” formerly a 4A school until moving down to 3A six years earlier â€” edged Brownwood 24-21 in what arguably was the greatest game in Classic history, the Lions were still playing in 4A. However, they moved to 3A in 2008 and joined Sweetwater in the same Class 3A district for the next four years until being moved out by the UIL this past February.
The fact that Everman and El Paso Del Valle â€” located over 600 miles apart â€” are perennial playoff contenders makes Saturdayâ€™s game even more intriguing.
Everman had something of an off-year in 2011 with a 6-5 mark, but still made the playoffs and is picked to do so again in District 8-4A which also includes two schools from Burleson and Waco plus Cleburne, Crowley and Joshua.
And the Bulldogs have been a consistent winner under longtime head coach Dale Keeling, who has 194 career wins and is the son of legendary Jimmie Keeling, who retired after last year as the winningest coach in Hardin-Simmons Univer-sityâ€™s history with a 178-57 record and prior to that had won a Class 3A high school state championship at Lub-bock Estacado in 1968.
Del Valle coach Jesse Perales, meanwhile, claims his 2012 Conquistadores may be one of the most talented teams heâ€™s coached. And the Conquistadores havenâ€™t exactly been shabby of late, having won three straight district titles. But beginning the season by facing Everman, a longtime DFW Metroplex power, will be a major challenge for his squad and Perales is hoping it will prepare his squad for another playoff run.
Del Valle made it to the postseason in 2011 for the eighth consecutive year, finishing with a 9-2 record.
Everman and Del Valle have something in common with the other four schools outside Nolan County who are competing at the Classic this year. Class 1A De Leon, Irion County and Roby and Class 2A Eastland are also making their first appearance in the Classic. Of those four, only Eastland made the playoffs last year, but all four Classic games look like good matchups on paper.
Sweetwater and Roscoe, meanwhile, will both be trying to reverse their recent history at this yearâ€™s event.
Sweetwater won its first four games from 2005-08, but has lost two of its last three. Roscoe has dropped its last three games after winning its first four. A win to begin 2012 could jumpstart their playoff hopes.